HOUSTON – The 70,000 fans at Reliant Stadium for the All-Star Game will likely experience one of the best soccer moments of their lives when the MLS All-Stars face Manchester United.
But for one fan in attendance, it will be hard to believe that anything that happens Wednesday can come close to surpassing what he was part of at Manchester United training on the eve of the match.
Matt Otten, a 20-year-old leukemia survivor who is currently battling a brain tumor, got the chance to have a face-to-face meeting with three of Manchester United’s superstars just before practice on Tuesday night.
Matt, accompanied by his dad and twin brother Mitch, shared a personal moment with Red Devils stalwarts Edwin van der Sar, Darren Fletcher and Wes Brown. As a lifelong Manchester United fan, Matt was overwhelmed by the experience.
“They were asking us our names and asking us how are game was,” Matt said.
Mitch is responsible for arranging the special moment for his brother. He initiated contact with the Houston Dynamo, who in turn reached out to MLS W.O.R.K.S. until the meeting was arranged.
“They came by, we shook their hands and introduced ourselves,” Mitch said. “They asked us how were doing, if we were going to go to the game and if we were excited. And of course, ‘Yes’ to all of them. We told them to have a good practice and don’t work too hard.”
The effort to make it happen was miniscule in comparison to what Matt has endured. He survived a four-year battle with leukemia which started at the age of four. Now at 20, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor which he will be fighting with more chemotherapy for the next year.
The brothers live in The Woodlands, better known as the hometown of former MLS hard man Rusty Pierce. They will make the 45-minute drive to Reliant on Wednesday and for as close as the twins seemed at Man Utd practice, they will be divided come kick-off.
“I kind of hope MLS wins,” Mitch said. “I’ll go 2-1 All-Stars.”
“I don’t agree,” replied Matt. “2-1, Man [United].”
For the Otten brothers, the final score will be just a mere footnote in an event that has already proven to a memorable one.